Craigslist (CL) continues to be one of the best websites for online classifieds, with an amazing 12 billion page views per month! It’s available in over 550 cities (worldwide) and continues to be free for all services other than job ads (priced at a reasonable $25 each). CL is designed to have a simple, local feel for users looking for special deals from people looking to sell their ‘excess stuff’. While it is not intended for business advertising, the huge number of visitors makes it irresistible to marketeers looking for free advertising.
While Google presents its listings to users by search-criteria relevance, CL presents listings chronologically. This means that to get a ‘top listing’ on CL you have to post continually so you are on the first page when a visitor is searching. Obviously CL has gone to great lengths to prevent this so their service retains its small-town local feel.
So how do you get started advertising with Craigslist?
First visit www.craigslist.org and then select the city you live in. Now double click on ‘Services’ and then enter a few different descriptions of your business to see (1) what is already listed and (2) which category it is listed in. See how the ads are written, note how their services are described and their call to action. Businesses that do well on CL seem to be ones that offer good ‘perceived value’ to visitors. Remember that people searching CL are usually looking for a ‘deal’ on something so make sure your product/service looks like something they cannot do without.
I would recommend signing up for a CL account. All it requires is a valid email address. The benefit of having an account is that you don’t have to respond to a CL confirmation email for each post. It also allows you to keep track of all your posts.
The simplest way to get started posting is with plain text. Your call-to-action can either be a phone call or an email response to the post (you have the option of hiding your email address from spammers). Your ad has three separate sections. The first is the Title. This must clearly articulate what you are offering and do so in an interesting and appealing way. The second is the ad Body. Keep it short and emphasize what the customer gets by using your product/service, not your features and specs. Finally, you need a clear Call-to-Action. For more information on how to post an ad visit www.craigslist.org/about/help/how.
Want to make your ad stand out from the crowd? Fortunately, CL recognizes basic HTML commands so you can actually embed such things as graphics, illustrations, hyperlinks, bold items, bulleted lists, etc. It doesn’t take a lot of work to put together a colorful ad, with exciting text copy, and then send users to your business website for more information. For more information on posting using HTML visit www.craigslist.org/about/help/html_in_craigslist_postings/details.
In Part 2 of this post we’ll talk about how to set up a system to post regularly and get maximum exposure for your small business.
– Steve (www.SPMsolutions.NET)